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Wildlife Sanctuaries and the Audubon Society

Wildlife Sanctuaries and the Audubon Society

John M. “Frosty” Anderson
Foreword by Donal C. O’Brien
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  • Book Info
    Wildlife Sanctuaries and the Audubon Society
    Book Description:

    National Audubon Society sanctuaries across the United States preserve the unique combinations of plants, climates, soils, and water that endangered birds and other animals require to survive. Their success stories include the recovery of the common and snowy egrets, wood storks, Everglade kites, puffins, and sandhill cranes, to name only a few.

    In this book, Frosty Anderson describes the development of fifteen NAS sanctuaries from Maine to California and from the Texas coast to North Dakota. Drawn from the newsletter "Places to Hide and Seek," which he edited during his tenure as Director/Vice President of the Wildlife Sanctuary Department of the NAS, these profiles offer a personal, often humorous look at the daily and longer-term activities involved in protecting bird habitats. Collectively, they record an era in conservation history in which ordinary people, without benefit of Ph.Ds, became stewards of the habitats in which they had lived all their lives. It's a story worth preserving, and it's entertainingly told here by the man who knows it best.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79920-2
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vii)
  3. Map
    (pp. viii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    It is a great pleasure and a special honor to write this foreword toWildlife Sanctuaries and the Audubon Society. John M. “Frosty” Anderson was one of the National Audubon Society’s great “living legends.” I had the privilege of knowing Frosty for over two decades and of working with him on behalf of birds and other wildlife and their habitat. No one has done more for wildlife than this modest man who had the best sense of humor of anyone I’ve known.

    Frosty served as the manager of the nation’s oldest duck club, the Winous Point Duck Club on the...

    (pp. xv-xx)

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, long before “endangered species” became a household term, the forerunners of the National Audubon Society were determined to set aside essential habitat for birds. Pioneers in wildlife conservation such as George Bird Grinnell, William Dutcher, T. Gilbert Pearson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ludlow Griscom realized that, in order to survive, each species requires a unique combination of plants, animals, climate, soil, and water. In addition to these environmental factors, birds of value to the millinery trade or as food for the table had to be protected from market hunters.

    Early in the twentieth century,...

    (pp. 1-24)

    When I accepted the position of director, Wildlife Sanctuary Department, Carl Buchheister, president of the National Audubon Society (nas) at the time, called me in. “Frosty, our biggest and most complex sanctuary is the Paul J. Rainey in Louisiana. You’re a marsh manager; that’s one reason we hired you. We’ve recently promoted a young Cajun named Lonnie Legé to full-time manager. For your first assignment, I want you to spend some time on the Rainey and, if necessary, offer young Legé some guidance.”

    Paul J. Rainey, a millionaire playboy whose favorite pastime was hunting and fishing, purchased about 40,000 acres...

    (pp. 25-33)

    Although the National Audubon Society had always been interested in protecting all species of birds, the colonial waterbirds undoubtedly played a leading role in establishing our wildlife sanctuaries. Coastal islands in Maine provided the base on which our education-conservation program was launched, but in the early 1920s, the Texas islands became the apple of nas president John Baker’s eye.

    From the Texas General Land Office, he leased Green Island in 1923; farther north he acquired the Second Chain of Islands in San Antonio Bay, and the Vingt-et-une Islands in Galveston Bay. Second Chain harbored the largest roseate spoonbill colony in...

    (pp. 34-50)

    On March 23, 1976, several thousand sandhill cranes were honored guests at the dedication of this new sanctuary on the Platte River near Grand Island, Nebraska. At the same time, Bob Wicht was hired as warden.

    Bob grew up along the Platte, within sight of the cranes as they gathered at their staging areas every spring and fall. He says the cranes bugling on the sandbars of the Platte are more pleasant than the noise he had to put up with in Vietnam. In his spare time, Bob is studying biology at Grand Island and is very active in the...

    (pp. 51-55)

    Since its beginning in 1935, the Audubon Camp in Maine has been an outstanding center for education in the various fields of natural history. The teaching staff for that first summer session reads like a Who’s Who in biological science. It included men who later became famous in their fields: Roger Tory Peterson in ornithology; Allan Cruickshank, who became a famous author and wildlife photographer; and entomologist Donald J. Borror, who, among other accomplishments, made great strides in recording the songs of birds.

    Thus, the Maine Coastal Island Sanctuaries provided Steve Kress an outdoor classroom and research center par excellence....

    (pp. 56-67)

    In 1923 the National Audubon Society leased several islands from the General Land Office of Texas. These included Green Island, our southernmost island sanctuary down in Laguna Madre, Second Chain of Islands in San Antonio Bay, North Bird and South Bird Islands near Corpus Christi, and Vingt-et-une near Smith Point in the mouth of Galveston Bay.

    Vingt-et-une supports a very significant colony of roseate spoonbills, and since 1967, when A. E. “Buddy” Whitehead was hired as our first warden, we have kept adventurous fishermen, picnickers, and frolicking dogs from disturbing the big “pinks” during the nesting season.

    Excerpts from Old...

    (pp. 68-94)

    Although Governor John Winthrop’s name may live on in the history of Massachusetts, Emily Winthrop Miles left a permanent mark on the wildlife and natural history of Sharon, Connecticut. When Emily’s father and mother landed at Le Havre, France, about 1915, word that their two daughters had eloped awaited them. Emily had married the chauffeur, Corey Miles; her sister was wedded to the gardener. The exasperated parents returned immediately to the United States and tried in vain to annul the marriages.

    Emily acquired about 740 acres about four miles east of Sharon on which she protected flora and fauna, both...

    (pp. 95-107)

    For many years, Sydnes Island in Sabine Lake, near the mouth of the Sabine River, which separates southwestern Louisiana from Texas, was the site of a large colony of wading birds.

    Susan Bailey had kept an eye on the great rookery of roseate spoonbills, egrets, herons, and cormorants. She had long felt that the 127-acre island should be an Audubon Sanctuary. Finally, on November 5, 1974, with assistance from John Franson, our Texas regional representative, and members of the Sabine Audubon Society, her wish came true. She became the official warden on January 1, 1975. The island was leased for...

    (pp. 108-133)

    Constitution Island Marsh Sanctuary lies next to historic Constitution Island, slightly upriver and across the main channel of the Hudson River from West Point. It not only provides a beautiful vista from the restored Boscobel Mansion at Garrison toward the towers of the U.S. Military Academy but also is the largest and healthiest expanse of tidal marsh remaining in the Hudson estuary. Its 267 acres became an Audubon sanctuary through a three-way arrangement that took years to negotiate. In 1969 the state of New York bought the property from the Greek Ladies Philoptochos Society with funds contributed by Laurance Rockefeller...

    (pp. 134-142)

    JUNE 1996 What wings are to a wood stork, the boardwalk is to this sanctuary. But manager Ed Carlson says this new boardwalk is the longest, best, and last one he will ever work on. Meanwhile, Ed often reflects upon the many men who have built and repaired our boardwalk over the past forty years.

    The original cypress strand was about twenty-five miles long. By 1953, it had been reduced to three miles in Collier County’s Corkscrew Swamp. There was a swelling tide of sentiment to save this remnant of the world’s last strand of virgin cypress.

    To make a...

    (pp. 143-145)

    At least fifty years before several endangered species became known as such, our sanctuary managers kept them in the endangered category rather than in the extinct or extirpated. For example, Guy Bradley did it for the egrets; Emily Payne, our manager for South Bird and Pelican Islands, with Dave Blankinship did it for the few remaining pairs of brown pelicans left in Texas; and our Research Department exposed ddt just before ddt got rid of our national emblem.

    Let’s take the case of the Everglade kite. Early in the twentieth century, it was common in the Everglades.The New York...

    (pp. 146-152)

    Once upon a time, a subtropical plant community dominated by palms covered about forty thousand acres along the lower reaches of the Rio Grande. The palms extended up the river eighty or more miles and southward into Mexico to San Luis Potosí and Veracruz.

    Because most Texans and Mexicans consider a virgin palm forest and native brush a waste that could be converted into citrus and cotton, which in turn can be converted into pesos and dollars, the Texas sabal palm is an endangered species.

    In 1940 the grove still contained more than 100 acres of palms. The pressure continued...

    (pp. 153-174)

    It has been said that Starr Ranch is a living laboratory that represents what southern California would be like if there were no people. The sanctuary is named for Eugene Starr, who donated 4,000 acres of his 10,000-acre cattle ranch in 1973. Orange County purchased 5,000 acres of the ranch, which is now Caspers Wilderness Park, adjacent to the sanctuary. Fortunately, Starr Ranch Sanctuary, Caspers Wilderness Park, and Cleveland National Forest form a corridor for wildlife in an otherwise solid mass of towns and condominiums. When National Audubon acquired the sanctuary, it was bordered on the west by several square...

    (pp. 175-196)

    About twenty miles northeast of Jamestown, North Dakota, the combination of North Dakota winters, arid summers, and rolling topography had kept the plows and cows off the remnant of virgin prairie that bordered Alkali Lake. But by the mid-1970s, developers were drooling over the possibility of buying the unbroken prairie and subdividing it for summer cottages.

    But a few ranchers, plus members of the Enpro chapter of the National Audubon Society in Jamestown, wanted to see swans floating on the lake in the fall instead of water skiers, to hear grebes calling in the spring instead of roaring outboards, to...

    (pp. 197-224)

    The original Four Hole Swamp in South Carolina, located about forty miles northwest of Charleston, covered about forty thousand to fifty thousand acres. In this swamp, the legendary Francis Marion, a.k.a. the Swamp Fox, and his guerrilla troop known as Marion’s Brigade are said to have frustrated and defeated the British several times during the Revolutionary War.

    The dominant tree species were cypress and tupelo gum. By the mid-1900s, almost the entire forest had been logged off; in some cases even the second-growth had been cut.

    Fortunately, in the heart of the Low Country, about 3,900 acres of this virgin...

    (pp. 225-242)

    When the Spaniards discovered Tampa Bay in 1528, the colorful wading birds, terns, and gulls were far too numerous to count. The natural barrier islands and protected mangrove keys, plus the bay waters teeming with fish, provided ideal habitat for colonial waterbirds.

    Birdlife was plentiful until about 1850, when egret plumes were literally worth their weight in gold. Plume hunters were followed by egg collectors and gourmets whose mouths watered at the thought of tasty young ibises. Only remnant populations survived until 1930.

    Then came Herbert Mills of Florida, who wrote in 1933 of his first visit to Green Key...

    (pp. 243-246)

    As the twentieth century draws to a close, the sanctuary department, as I knew it, has done likewise. In 1995 incoming nas president, John Flicker, announced a reorganization plan for the National Audubon Society. The society would no longer be administered from the New York office. Instead, a strong central office in each state would oversee sanctuaries and all other administrative functions.

    In several states, such as Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, a rather extensive system of sanctuaries administered by the respective state is already in place. In Texas, for example, I believe the State Audubon Society can manage the...

  22. INDEX
    (pp. 247-260)